Mendy Lifting FIFA Goalkeeper Award Is a Good Sign for African Football

Chelsea shot-stopper Edouard Mendy was awarded the Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper at the event held at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland on Monday evening.

Mendy is officially the world’s best goalkeeper after playing a crucial role in Chelsea’s second UEFA Champions League triumph in 2020/21, with a record-equalling nine clean sheets as he became the first African goalkeeper to play in the final of the competition.

The 29-year-old’s pioneering efforts have elevated the quality of African goalkeepers after he also won the UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year in 2021. This has gone a long way in proving the capability of shot-stoppers in Africa who have long been perceived as error-prone and lacking technical ability.

Although Mendy was snubbed for the Best Goalkeeper honour at the Ballon d’Or by finishing second in the Yashin Trophy standings back in November, this represents a well-deserved achievement for the Senegalese.

Since joining Chelsea for a bargain £22 million in 2020, Mendy has impressed with his incredible reflexes, physicality and command of his area as he racked up clean sheets with amazing consistency. His arrival signaled the stark improvement of the Chelsea backline under Frank Lampard, leading to a sensational winning spell under incumbent Thomas Tuchel.

Thus, after 12 clean sheets in 26 games in all competitions this season, the Chelsea man has kept up his high standards and another nomination this year is not far-fetched. Mendy has lifted the UEFA Super Cup and has realistic chances of adding the FIFA Club World Cup, Carabao Cup and AFCON 2021 before the end of February.

Mendy is currently on international duty having missed the first two Africa Cup of Nations matches for Senegal due to testing positive for Covid-19, however, he is back ahead of their third group B fixture against Malawi in Bafoussam and the world’s best goalkeeper can resume his inspirational role for the Teranga Lions.

In truth, the continent has come a long way to getting due attention for individual awards on the global stage and this just might mark the start of a golden era for African footballers.

With Mohamed Salah strongly tipped to sweep many of the individual awards come the end of the season, Mendy could be getting an African companion at the top of world football sooner rather than later.

AFCON 2021 has already proven a showcase of some of the finest talents across the very top of European football, and Mendy’s statement win is physical evidence that Africa’s time is now.